On Thursday, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed suit against Albertsons alleging the grocery chain prohibited employees from speaking Spanish anywhere on the premises regardless of whether they were on a break. The civil action, which was filed in federal district court in the Southern District of California, is based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, and seeks a permanent injunction against Albertsons from engaging in national origin harassment as well as compensatory and punitive damages for the aggrieved individuals.
According to court filings, in 2012 Albertsons developed an unwritten English-only policy, which Albertsons implemented as essentially a no Spanish policy. In a training video managers, and employees were instructed that employees should not speak Spanish as long as there was a non-Spanish speaking person present. Pursing those instructions a director of a San Diego store implemented a no Spanish policy banning employees from speaking Spanish anywhere on the premises regardless of whether they were on a break.
According to the Washington Post, a spokeswoman for Albertsons told the Washington Post that “The company does not have, and has never had a policy in which such language usage is prohibited.”
The EEOC court filing indicates that Albertsons declined an offer to join the Commission in informal methods of conciliation to endeavor to eliminate discriminatory practices and provide appropriate relief.